As regular readers know, I often write on police misconduct, or accusations of the same. In reporting on such things, I rely on what I’ve come to call my “cop sense,” which is rather like Spiderman’s “spidey sense.” I primarily rely on media reports, which are often wrong, and my experience as a police officer. Often, what isn’t said or done by the police or local politicians speaks more loudly and accurately than what is said or done.
In the Erik Scott case, early reports set off my cop sense. Everything about that case sounded wrong. It smelled like a police cover up from the first article I read, and so it was. In the Freddie Gray case, it was the opposite. It smelled like a political witch hunt against innocent officers, and so it was. The same was true of the Michael Brown case. In the Brown and Gray cases, race was a significant factor. Brown and Gray were black, and the officers involved–mostly–were white. As one might imagine, race hustlers rode those narratives for all they were worth, but in both case, the rule of law ultimately prevailed.
Now we have the case of Australian native Justine Damond, the 40 year-old fiancé of a Minneapolis man, Don Damond. On July 15, 2017, Damond made the mistake of calling the Minneapolis police to report a woman screaming in the alley behind her home. The police arrived, Damond, wearing pajamas and reportedly carrying only a cell phone, went outside to meet them, and within seconds, was shot in the stomach by Officer Mohamed Noor. She died shortly thereafter, presumably from massive internal bleeding.
Noor, a native of Somalia, is said, by various reports, to be one of only a handful of Somalis on the Minneapolis force, r the first Somali on that force. He is, obviously, black. Damond was white. Race is, these days, significant, though it shouldn’t be. As one might suspect, while the case had drawn significant local media interest, it has barely been touched by a national media focused on the Russia All The Time narrative, and fundamentally uninterested in the violence committed by black people, even police officers.
Understand, once again, my only sources for this, the first of what will likely be several articles in this case, are news reports, with all their inherent narratives and biases. Even so, there is already much that is deeply disturbing and revealing. Understand too that “violence” committed by Officer Noor, if properly and lawfully employed would likely be lawful and justified, and absent facts likely not in evidence, not at all racially motivated. However, race is already being injected by local politicians.
The Minneapolis Star-Tribune provides a partial transcript of the incident (an audio transcript is here):
Dispatch: ‘Squad 530 to 5024 Washburn Avenue South. Female screaming behind the building.’
Officer on scene: ‘530, uh, shots fired. Can we get EMS Code 3 Washburn and 51st Street? We got one down.’
Dispatch: ‘Copy. Shots fired at Washburn and 53rd Street. Correction 51st. Sergeant to acknowledge shots fired and one down at Washburn.’
Sergeant on duty: ‘Copy’
Dispatch: ‘Copy 502’
Officer: ‘506 as well’
Dispatch: ‘Copy 506’
Officer: ‘530, I’m starting CPR.’
Dispatch: ‘Copy 530, starting CPR.’
Officer: ‘530, we’re north of the alleyway, 51st Street, Washburn even side.’
Dispatch: ‘Copy north of alley, 51st Street, even side. 5520 arrived (garbled). Squad 530 are you Code 4 for medical?’
Officer: ‘530 Code 4 for medical.’
Dispatch: ‘530 Code 4 for medical at 23:45.’
Officer: ‘530, there are no suspects at large.’
Dispatch: ‘Copy 530, no suspects at large.’
Officer: ‘520, where is EMS on this?’
Dispatch: ‘EMS is coming. Rescue is coming.’
Officer: ‘502 they’re behind me at 53rd and Oliver.’
Unknown: ‘Rescue’s arrived.
This is a very odd transcript, and the audio transcript is equally odd. From the recording, it’s impossible to tell whether the recording has been altered–I don’t have the necessary equipment–but from the completed dispatch of the initial call until one of the officers on the scene calls “shots fired,” takes only about three seconds(?!). This would indicate that either the tape has been altered–something has been removed–or the officers were already present, perhaps even shooting, before the dispatch call. The idea they could have arrived, spoken with Damond, and shot her within 3 seconds beggars belief.
Also significant is the two officers–unit 530–again within roughly a minute, telling the dispatcher, and other responding units, “there are no suspects at large.” This would seem to suggest they knew there was no danger in the area–Noor already shot the only person in the area–and I suspect they also knew how badly they screwed up. They shot the only “suspect” present, and she was armed only with a cell phone. As I’ve often noted, the mere fact someone is not armed is not proof they are harmless, but there is much more about this case, already, that is disturbing. The Startribune reports:
While many of the details about what happened Saturday night in the city’s southwest corner have not been disclosed, this much was: She called to report a possible assault in the alley behind her house in one of the city’s safest neighborhoods and was unarmed when officer Mohamed Noor shot her.
Amid a public outpouring of grief and outrage, Chief Janeé Harteau issued her first comments on the shooting, saying she too wanted an explanation, and called on the state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension [BCA] to perform a speedy investigation. [skip]
Just before 11:30 p.m. Saturday, Damond, 40, called 911 to report a possible assault occurring in an alley near her home between Washburn and Xerxes avenues S., in the Fulton neighborhood.
Damond, in her pajamas, went to the driver’s side door of the responding squad and was talking to the officer, according to three sources with direct knowledge of the case.
Moments later, Noor shot across his partner from the passenger’s seat, killing Damond.
Let us assume this report is accurate. Other reports suggest Noor, 31, only had two years on the job, and his partner–Officer Matthew Harrity, 25, perhaps only a single year. Here we have Officer Harrity, behind the wheel, speaking to Damond through the open window of the police vehicle. Apparently within mere seconds, Noor, from the front passenger’s seat, drew his handgun, and shooting across Harrity’s body, shot Damond through the window. In other words, he stuck his handgun in Harrity’s face and fired. No competent officer would do this absent an unmistakably immediate and deadly threat Harrity did not recognize and/or could not respond to quickly enough.
Competent officers would want to get out of their police vehicle as quickly as possible, such vehicles in an alley being bullet magnets, yet these officers apparently felt comfortable remaining seated and speaking with Damond. Competent officers do not like anyone to approach them and speak to them through the windows of their vehicle. It’s a bad tactical situation, limiting their vision and ability to respond. Yet, this situation seems to have unfolded within a mere handful of seconds, perhaps leaving the officers little time to do much of anything.
Minneapolis/St. Paul, commonly known as the Twin Cities, is an unabashedly liberal bastion. The last Republican mayor left office at the end of 1973, 44 years ago. The area also has a large Somali immigrant population, and as one might imagine, there have been significant difficulties with assimilation–or lack thereof. A number of local Somalis have been prosecuted for terrorist activities, and there have, in recent years, been several high-profile shootings of black men by the police, producing the kinds of social justice narratives one might expect:
The incident comes just weeks after the acquittal of then-St. Anthony police officer Jeronimo Yanez, who fatally shot Philando Castile in a high-profile incident whose aftermath was broadcast live on Facebook, and less than two years after the Minneapolis police shooting of Jamar Clark, an unarmed black man.
The Minneapolis PD apparently has a body camera policy, and both officers were apparently wearing such cameras. It also seems their vehicle was equipped with a dash camera. Apparently, no video recordings were made of the incident. This might not be at all suspect. Officers in this agency apparently activate their cameras only when they think they might be needed. There would be no need to turn on cameras while driving down an alley, or when approached by what must have appeared, at least to Harrity, to be the reporting party, a women in pajamas, and even if the dash camera were in operation–again, there would be no apparent need for it–if would have recorded no video of action occurring behind the lens, though it might have recorded audio. Fortunately, it’s unlikely video or audio recordings will be necessary to understand what happened and why.
It is professional practice to have an outside agency investigate officer involved shootings. A later Startribune report contains a BCA statement:
Three sources with knowledge of the incident said Sunday that two officers in one squad car, responding to the 911 call, pulled into the alley. Damond, in her pajamas, went to the driver’s side door and was talking to the driver. The officer in the passenger seat pulled his gun and shot Damond through the driver’s side door, sources said. No weapon was found at the scene.
‘Two Minneapolis police officers responded to a 911 call of a possible assault just north of the 5100 block of Washburn Avenue S. just before 11:30 p.m. Saturday,’ the state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension said in a news release. ‘At one point, an officer fired their weapon, fatally striking a woman.’
‘The BCA’s investigation is in its early stages. More information will be available once initial interviews with incident participants and any witnesses are complete. … The officers’ body cameras were not turned on at the time and the squad camera did not capture the incident. Investigators are attempting to determine whether any video of the incident exists.
It’s unlikely any more specific information will be released until the BCA’s investigation is complete, which should not take long. There are only two witnesses to the shooting, and any forensic examination should take little time as well. While the media will be clamoring for information, it is also wise and professional practice for the police to release nothing until they are certain about the evidence, and until the investigation is completed.
Given the nature of Minneapolis in particular, and the contemporary state of politics in police work, another important and pertinent question must be answered: was Noor a diversity hire? In other words, was he hired primarily because he is black and a Somali, and not because he was qualified and competent to do the job? In yet another article, the Startribune reports:
After changing careers to join the Minneapolis Police Department in 2015, Mohamed Noor was lauded by the mayor and his fellow Somalis as a welcome addition to the force.
‘I want to take a moment to recognize Officer Mohamed Noor, the newest Somali officer in the Minneapolis Police Department,’ Mayor Betsy Hodges posted on Facebook last year. ‘Officer Noor has been assigned to the 5th Precinct, where his arrival has been highly celebrated, particularly by the Somali community in and around Karmel Mall.
Such a specific notice for any police officer, particularly in a major city, is unusual, to say the least. It would seem to be a nod to the proper progressive, diversity narrative.
Noor holds a degree in business administration, management and economics from Augsburg College. Before joining the department, he worked in commercial and residential property management in Minneapolis and St. Louis, and was general manager of a hotel in Eden Prairie.
Noor is apparently an educated man, but that does not, alone, qualify him for police work.
According to the Office of Police Conduct Review, Noor has had three complaints filed against him, two of which remain open. Another was closed without discipline. Noor has been sued once in his short career with the police department, stemming from an incident on May 25 in which he and two other officers went to a woman’s home and took her to a hospital, which the woman alleges constituted false imprisonment, assault and battery. According to the ongoing lawsuit, the officers claimed they had reason to believe the woman was suffering a mental health crisis — which she denied — and Noor ‘grabbed her right wrist and upper arm,’ exacerbating a previous shoulder injury in the process.
This is the only complaint regarding Noor about which we have any knowledge. It is, however, unusual for a two-year officer to have so many. Every police officer, unless he is doing essentially nothing, will have the occasional complaint, but few get to the stage of a formal investigation. On the other hand, the MPD might, in response to racial politics, formally investigate everything, where other agencies would not. I just don’t know.
Scott Johnson at Powerline adds a bit of information:
By contrast with his performance in the Castile case, Governor Dayton has maintained his silence. One can only speculate why. Perhaps the governor regrets his performance in that case. Perhaps there is something different about this case.
In this case there is no heartbreaking video. In this case, moreover, the officer involved is black and the shooting victim is white. Indeed, as of March 2015, Officer Noor is the first Somali officer on the Minneapolis police force. I take it there will be no rush to judgment in this case and that we will be spared the disruptive protests featured in the Castile case. We may have to be grateful for small mercies.
I reached out to a trusted law enforcement source for any insight he might be able to offer. He responds: ‘My first thought was that it was accidental, but rumor has it [Officer Noor is] denying that it was a negligent discharge.’ He adds: ‘If there aren’t some sort of mitigating circumstances, and I’m struggling to imagine what they could be, this may be the most egregious police shooting in my lifetime if not longer…But not many facts are known at this point and it’s hard to pass judgment before knowing more than what’s being leaked to the media.
Governor Dayton, a man with a history of mental health problems, has been very outspoken, and predictably so, whenever the police have shot a black person. His silence in this case, again, may suggest his alignment with the progressive narrative. Progressives commonly hate the police, but for the moment, race, and the local investment in Muslim/Somali immigrants and diversity, seems to trump even that. Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges, and assistant Police chief Medaria Arradondo have been equally circumspect. I suspect Johnson’s source is correct: rational Americans and specifically, conservatives, don’t riot.
Again, gentle readers, let me stress my limitations in analyzing this case. I know only what media sources are telling me, but experience helps to fill in the blanks. The initial encounter between Damond and the officers, particularly the time frame, is very odd, and certainly will be one of the focuses of any competent investigation.
Most important in this case will be the testimony of the two officers, and particularly that of Officer Harrity. Pity him. He’s caught in the middle of a racial narrative, with negative consequences for lies and the truth. I suspect his testimony will be that he was talking to Damond, and suddenly, his ears were ringing and she was falling. If so, this will likely be the truth. He may have seen nothing at all threatening, which does not mean Noor could not have seen something. It would not be surprising to discover he suffered hearing damage, and some injuries to his face and eyes. It will be interesting to hear what Noor might have said to him, and done, post-shooting. While information is, as yet, inconclusive, it appears Noor fired a single shot.
As Scott Johnson’s source notes, it’s difficult to imagine what could have caused Noor to shoot Damond. It’s also difficult to imagine how this shooting can be ruled reasonable. Noor might have seen Damond’s cell phone, and thinking it a gun, shot her, but considering the circumstances as they’re currently known, that would be a very lame justification indeed. Apparently the alley was well lit. Noor might be a well intentioned, perhaps even qualified, officer, but this may be the kind of mistake from which there is no recovery. If so, his race and national origin may protect him from the kinds of consequences that would befall a white, American officer in Minneapolis. It’s unlikely such a shooting would rate more than a few brief articles in the local media.
If it’s correct Noor is saying this was not a negligent discharge, that’s not a good thing for him. How could such an ND possibly occur in these circumstances? It would require, at the least, Noor to draw his weapon, aim it at Damond–virtually in the face of Harrity–and put his finger on the trigger. No competent officer would ever do such a thing. Again, if the time frame of the audiotape is correct, all of this happened in mere seconds. If the tape has somehow been edited, that’s another, and very damaging issue. If the officers were already present and speaking to Damond before they got the call, which is possible, that’s also a very problematic thing to explain.
At the moment, this appears to be a monumental police mistake. It is unlikely racial strife will be a part of this situation, primarily because the political elite of Minneapolis, and the management of the Police Department, have a vested interest in maintaining the racialist narrative long established there and elsewhere. Of course, there is no known evidence race was involved here, but there is, for the Left, no advantage in protesting the death of a white woman at the hands of a black police officer.
More as it develops.
I’m a retired LEO. This shooting feels horribly wrong to me based on what has been revealed so far. If the races of the parties involved were reversed, the Twin Cities would be smoldering rubble. I don’t know if Moor was qualified for the job, but I strongly doubt it. We expect LEOs to be perfect. Lowering hiring and promotional standards for the police for the sake of diversity is dangerous. Noor will be OK. If he said he shot her because she was out in her jammies, it will be dismissed because of “cultural differences” , PTSD from his past, blah blah blah. It won’t be his fault.
I hope Justine’s loved ones find peace. She seems to have been a wonderful person.
Mike McDaniel said:
Thanks for your service, and I fear you may be right. Much more on this case tomorrow.
Old 1811 said:
This morning came a report that said BCA had been told this:
The officers were called to meet the complainant in her back yard. It was 11:30 at night. Noor had his gun in his lap because he was worried about being ambushed in the alley. As they passed the woman’s residence, she stepped into the alley and hit the roof of the squad with her hand. Noor was startled and pulled the trigger.
Excuse the language, but that is fucked up. Gun out of his holster and on his lap?????!!!
No way this guy was qualified to be out there. He should take the brunt for his actions, but I hope the Twin Cities PD and sundry politicians are roasted for their poor hiring practices.
Mike McDaniel said:
At the moment, this has the stink of diversity and social justice, but we’ll see as it develops.
Mike McDaniel said:
Dear Old 1811:
From what I’ve been able to find, Noor has thus far refused to speak with the BCA. This is becoming and more and more interesting, if predictable.
Old 1811 said:
I read that, too. This supposedly came from the partner, I believe. I read it before I was properly caffeinated, and now I can’t find it. But it supposedly came from the BCA.
Old 1811 said:
According to what I’ve read, Minneapolis PD guidelines require the cameras to be turned on prior to the use of force. Since all they were doing was meeting a noise complainant, there was no reason to anticipate the use of any force.
If I seem to be obsessing over this case, please forgive me. I’ve been reading another blog regarding this case, and the comments there make Black Lives Matter sound like Sesame Street.
pre-Boomer Marine brat said:
Thanks VERY much for your data and insight, especially regarding the radio transcript.
Also thanks to Amanda in the previous comment. I strongly suspect that Noor blew Damond away (phrase intended) because she was out in PJs at midnight. It was very “cultural”. That’s the only thing which makes any sort of sense.
The most interesting parts of the mess are the City’s and PD’s responses. Today, we’re fed vague mentions of a loud noise and fireworks in the neighborhood. What’s the source of that? The City. And who’s parroting them? Harrity. Five’ll getcha ten that he’s under incredible pressure — possibly lethal.
Mike McDaniel said:
Dear pre-Boomer Marine Brat:
I suspect you’re correct about the pressure on Harrity. But if the story is going to be Poor fired because he was startled, that would be worth manslaughter, at least, in a rational jurisdiction.
pre-Boomer Marine brat said:
Oh yes, he’ll be excused all to h*ll — far more to cover the City’s butt than his.
I didn’t follow the Scott case past the official hearings, but with the exception of the Star-Tribune’s calls for facts, Minneapolis is playing this out out precisely the same. IIRC, one of the four Vegas policemen came under extraordinary pressure to toe the line afterwards. (Very fuzzy here on that.)
Today’s Daily Mail report of comments by a friend of Noor seem to support my thinking. He’s previously said it wasn’t a negligent discharge. Now his camp is trying to lessen liability by claiming he was startled and panicked, knowing he can no longer duck having fired deliberately.
I do have one very-tenuous line of thought. (1) Noor’s wife divorced him in disagreement over his career change into police work. (2) He seemed to have bounced from one type of work to another previously. (3) Coming from an authoritarian culture, might he have been in something of a mid-life crisis mode? (4) That would explain my idea that the sight of a Western woman out at midnight in her PJs set him off.
I also want to know if Harrity has facial burns, eye and hearing damage from the discharge of Noor’s pistol multiple times, right in his face. Noor is so stupid, he’s dangerous. And THAT damns MPD’s training program.
Mike McDaniel said:
Dear pre-Boomer Marine brat:
You’ve hit on a significant issue. I’ll be surprised if Noor’s field training evaluations do not indicate a man that shouldn’t be allowed anywhere near a police vehicle. I suppose it’s possible this was Noor’s first major failure–he’s only been on the force two years–but with three major complaints outstanding, that’s unlikely.
I’ll just be blunt – this thing stinks to high heaven, and I don’t expect to ever learn the real truth from those in charge (similar to the Erik Scott case). I read or heard somewhere yesterday that Noor fired 3 times – sorry, I have no source. I’m not LE, but the latest from BCA (according to Old 1811 above) is suspicious, because wouldn’t Noor need to have the gun in his hand and carefully aimed across his body, across the body of his partner, and out the driver side door in order to pull the trigger immediately upon being startled? Another foul odor around all this are the other complaints against Noor – 3 in a 2-year period? That’s excessive by anyone’s standards, I would think. As an aside (sort of), I also read, perhaps in the U.K. Daily Mail, that Harrity was some sort of special officer (public service or something?) and wasn’t carrying a gun. I’ll be interested in learning more as it comes out, but I really don’t think we’ll learn the truth. I suspect one of the first people who will publicly speak on this will be Noor’s attorney, who’ll be sent out to start the PR spin.
I realize that shooting an unarmed person can sometimes be justified by a “disparity of force.” Your assailant might be bigger than you are, or you might be injured, and unable to fight back hand-to-hand. (Both of those factors were present in the Michael Brown shooting.)
Also, I realize that police come into contact with people who are drunk, high on drugs, mentally ill, hysterical, or just plain stupid. And those people make furtive movements (like reaching in a pocket after being told to keep their hands in plain sight), forcing the cops to make a life-or-death decision in a split second. Which means that even a good cop can end up making a tragic mistake.
None of which appears to be the case here. This case just stinks.
And the MSM will ignore it, or will try to spin it in such a way as to further The Agenda. The Washington Post has already suggested that the problem is lack of gun control. American cops shoot first and ask questions later, because American civilians are armed, and therefore, police respond to every 911 call expecting it to escalate into a shoot-out. So, of course, the solution is to outlaw private ownership of guns, so that cops won’t be afraid of private citizens.
Got that? The solution to panicky, trigger-happy cops is to disarm law-abiding citizens.
Thank goodness for the coastal elite, who can come up with brilliant solutions. We rednecks in flyover country would have suggested something simplistic. Like carefully screening, vetting, testing, and training applicants for law enforcement jobs.
But then, proper testing and vetting might weed out unqualified applicants. The Minneapolis PD would have been deprived of its Muslim immigrant quota hire/poster boy.
Public safety is secondary to “diversity,” and it appears that Justine Damond was sacrificed on the altar of political correctness.
janc1955, I don’t have a link or source either, but I also recall hearing somewhere that Noor fired 3 times. I’m not LE either, but I am a retired LE dispatcher with a passionate interest in LE matters.
As a responsible citizen living in a nation of laws, I’ll reserve my opinion and judgement about this case until after the investigation is closed and facts are revealed. But my first gut instinct is that the police department’s hiring requirements were lowered for the sake of diversity and social justice which was the first cause of the entire tragedy.
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Daily mail said he shot multiple times. It’s odd how you have to go to foreign papers to find out what the facts in a US story are.
pre-Boomer Marine brat said:
Fleet Street is traditionally better-educated and more independent-minded than America’s press. Also check out the Guardian regarding this story.
(Yes, I know. The Guardian’s so left wing it thinks Marx was a neo-con, but it too gets details which America “journalists” miss.)
Leonard Jones said:
Something smelled very bad about this incident from the beginning!
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Char Char Binks said:
There’s absolutely no reason to jump to conclusions. That’s the difference between us and those people.
Also, the only way the left will muster any outrage over this killing is the anti-police angle. They will castigate anyone not on the left as either racist or in favor of police brutality, depending on which way we come down on this, so we may as well let the law and the facts of the case determine our opinion, as we should anyway.
Mike McDaniel said:
Dear Char Char Binks:
Quite so, and I will, as always, alter my coverage and analysis to reflect updated facts. Unfortunately for Noor, it now appears his Chief has thrown him under the bus, while simultaneously, the Mayor is crying out to prevent Islamaphobia, Xenophobia and Racism. Truly, we live in interesting times.
Leonard Jones said:
I have NO doubt that you will be all over this Mike! Your work on the Trayvon
Martin case and others, many involving police misconduct, were fantastic.
Once you sink your teeth into a story like this, you are a freaking Pitbull!
I think you will agree that the incongruities, in this case, are compelling.
This has the smell of multi-culti PS bullcrap all over it. Sic em Mike!
Mike McDaniel said:
Dear Leonard Jones:
You’re most kind. I’ll do my best.
I haven’t been around since the Trayvon days and had — unfortunately — lost track of your writing. PowerLine had a link today about the case and I look forward to enjoying your insight once again!
Mike McDaniel said:
It’s good to have you back!
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